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June 3, 2009

Twenty-Five Things I’d Do At MoCCA


This weekend is the MoCCA Festival in New York City, at their new location of the Lexington Street Armory. The MoCCA Festival is one of the jewels of the North American convention schedule and together with the Fall's Small Press Expo and up-and-coming events like Portland's Stumptown anchors the year's arts comics and small press calendar.

I won't be attending the MoCCA Festival this year, but if I were, there's a lot I'd try to do.

1. I'd get in early and go to the What's Funny show tonight
Newgarden + Mahler + Nevins = good times. It's like the live version of an article that would appear in Monocle.

2. I'd visit some of the city's great comics shops
I like to keep my comics goings-on from my not-comics goings-on as much as possible, so most of my time before and after MoCCA would be spent on the rest the stuff I like to do. I do like going to comics shops whenever I get the chance and New York has a metric ton of them. I'm always by how tight the spaces are, but that makes total sense in New York given the real estate costs.

3. I'd go see Adrian Tomine and Seth at The Strand
They're on tour right now. Tomine and Seth are not only fine cartoonists, they're excellent talkers about cartooning, so a show of theirs should be a fun time. I haven't been to The Strand for a while, either.

4. I'd go to the closing party for 24x24: A Vague Epic
I'm not sure I was sharp enough to hear about the opening, but it sounds like a fun show. Plus: it says "party."

5. I'd walk to the show one morning
You have to be careful with this one because you'll be on your feet a lot at the show, but there's nothing better than taking a long walk through one of the great cities of the world knowing comics is your final destination.

6. Let's be honest: I'd probably blow off Saturday and go to the Belmont Stakes
Comics are great and everything, but I've never won anything after putting $15 across on a 105-1 long shot on New Comics Day. I have at the Belmont, so I'd probably spend my first day out there at their fine day of horse racing and ladies wearing hats. That's a great thing about the MoCCA Festival, though; it's not really a show I think of as an attend-every-minute event, so I encourage people to come to town and do a few hours at the show and do something else, too. (For the sake of this exercise, I'm going to pretend I'm at the festival just about every minute, though.)

7. I'd take a slow, methodical walk around the show to see everything I can
This is a must at a show like this one. You never know what you'll miss unless you put your head down and perform due diligence. Try to do a second walk-around during a different day or different time of day, just because people and sometimes material swaps out.

8. I'd complete my Real Deal collection at PictureBox
I still need a couple of these.

9. I'd buy as much handmade art as I could
I love buying comics and collected editions, but festivals like MoCCA are about the comics you can't find elsewhere, so I'd be on the lookout for the handmade stuff first.

image10. I'd buy -- or at least look at with the intention of buying later -- some of the debuts that particularly appeal to me
Three books stand out. Considering I'm not even going to be there, I'm pretty fired up for the surprise publication of Mat Brinkman's Multiforce. As a fan of the cartoonist, I'm thrilled for the new Tom Gauld book, too. Another book I just sort of want to see is the final printed copy of Kevin Cannon's massive 24-Hour Style Of Creation graphic novel, Far Arden.

11. I'd go to the Syncopated Release party at Rocketship
Brendan Burford is not only one of the most powerful men in comic strips, he's an art comics anthology editor. It's like he's Clark Kent and the guy Clark Kent used to beat up at Smallville Elementary. I'm kidding: there's no better person in comics and the book looks fun. Plus I've never been to Rocketship, because I'm too scared to ride the subway intoxicated.

12. I'd go to the Future Ink show on Friday night
This looks like a fun show, too, and there will probably be some extended afterparty at someone's house. Or something. Not that I'd be invited.

13. I'd stop by the Romanian comics show Friday night
This would be fun to go to because I have no idea what would be involved. After turning 30 (let alone 40), I sort of stopped ending up at social events about which I'm completely ignorant.

14. I'd go to the opening reception for the David Mazzucchelli show at MoCCA
There are very few artists out there whose art I'd like to see up close as much as I'd like to see a bunch of David Mazzucchelli's. That Asterios Polyp sure is a fascinating book.

15. I'd have many awesome dinners with many awesome cartoonists in many of New York's awesome restaurants
I'd do something social along these lines, I'm sure. MoCCA is in New York. I'm trying to think if there's something I eat in New York that I don't eat anywhere else. Maybe Russian? But really any place to which a local directed me would be excellent, I'm sure. It's great to talk to your comics friends you don't see all that often. Here's an eating guide from Heidi MacDonald, local to that neighborhood.

16. I would sing "Rainbow Connection" to help the CBLDF
And I would be great. Okay, no I wouldn't. What kind of karaoke song list doesn't have "The Rose"?

17. I'd go to the panels Saturday, 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM: Making Good Comics In A New Era Panel (2:00 PM), Ah, Humbug! Panel (3:00 PM), Scandinavian Comics 101 panel (4:00 PM), Twisted Genius of Fletcher Hanks panel (5:00 pm)
There's nothing better than sitting down with a long stretch of panels and letting the comics knowledge watch over you as your ass becomes indented into your seat. I thought this was a great stretch on Saturday, including a double-dose of the great Paul Karasik (he's doing his Fletcher Hanks thing and subbing for Gary Groth on the Humbug panel).

18. I'd go to the Gary Panter and Frank Santoro in conversation panel at 3:45 PM on Sunday
This seems like it would be the must-attend of the show, in that both of these formidable artists are smart, fearless and talk well. There's a ton of good programming throughout the weekend, and everyone's tastes vary. I'd just suggest seeing something. Kent Worcester puts together a good slate of comics chat.

19. I'd see some old comics industry pals
Jon Lewis, Eric Reynolds, Graham Annable, Chris Staros and Brett Warnock, Chris Pitzer... we're the old guys now, at least at this show.

20. I'd meet some of the cartoonists I haven't yet or barely know
Kate Beaton, Tom Kaczynski, Karl Stevens, Jason... there are many, many more.

21. I would pay homage to the great Neilalien
The comics-blogger prime attends this show every year, and if I were lucky enough to see him I would shake his hand if he offered it and pay my proper respects. I'm told he likes Dr. Strange.

22. I would say, "Hi," to some of my fellow writers about comics
It's a great convention to see some of the best writers about comics out there, including the PW crowd and Sean T. Collins if he makes the trip in.

23. I'd go to the Comic Strip Serenade show at Jalopy
What a great-sounding cap-off to a long weekend.

24. I would feel old
I always do.

25. I would stop and reflect
While it's always a danger to watch comics at a kind of core, transactional level as some kind of balm that keeps us protected from our feelings of despair and horror when confronted with yet another round of corporate exploitation of this wonderful art form, that doesn't mean all that stuff isn't of itself a great thing. Make comics, read comics, love comics.

posted 8:25 am PST |

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